Dozier shakes off slump with two homers

Dozier shakes off slump with two homers

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier has made it no secret that he and his teammates weren't happy that the Twins traded left-hander Jaime Garcia and closer Brandon Kintzler before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But Dozier also said the clubhouse collectively believes they're still contenders in the American League Wild Card chase. Dozier, though, knows he must produce down the stretch for his club to stay in contention, and he took a step toward breaking out of his recent funk by going 3-for-4 with two homers to lead Minnesota to an 8-4 win over the Rangers on Friday night at Target Field.

The win moved the Twins 3.5 games back of the Royals for the second Wild Card spot, and Dozier said there's still belief within Minnesota's clubhouse that the postseason is a possibility despite the trades.

"No white flags in here," Dozier said matter-of-factly. "Not at all. Zero."

Dozier entered in an 0-for-14 funk, but quickly snapped out of it with a leadoff homer in the first off lefty Martin Perez. Dozier jumped on a 1-0 fastball and smacked his second opposite-field homer of the year.

Dozier's leadoff home run

"He can jumpstart us and that's why he's up there at the top," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He can get you going in a lot of ways. But the leadoff home runs can always give you a little bit of a jolt, especially responding to a deficit right out of the chute."

Dozier picked up right where he left off in the second, this time turning on a 1-1 fastball from Perez, smacking it into the second deck in left. He became the first Twins player ever to homer leading off both the first and second innings, and the first Twins hitter to hit two homers in the first two innings of a game since Jason Kubel on June 4, 2009.

"The first one, he laid one in there," Dozier said. "The second at-bat, he missed with the fastball, knew he'd change it up, but I missed the changeup and then he threw another fastball middle-in."

Dozier's second homer

Dozier has 19 homers in 99 games this season, and is on pace for 29 home runs this year after hitting 42 in 2016. But Dozier can get hot in a hurry and hit 20 homers from Aug. 5 to the end of the season last year.

The way he fares the rest of the way will have a major impact on whether the Twins fade after being sellers or remain in contention.

"He's a guy who has put up big numbers in bunches at times," Molitor said. "He's been trying to find it. He had the leadoff homer in Oakland, too. But I'd love to see him get on a roll. He makes our offense so much better when he's in one of those hot streaks."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.